Preparing For Your First Competition

Competition is BACK in Ontario and we couldn't be more excited at Atos Jiu Jitsu Hamilton!  I have had many students ask about how to get competition ready and what better resource is there than referring to Atos Jiu Jitsu HQ in San Diego.  This is the headquarters of our team which is home to a powerhouse team.  Carlos Duarte wrote a fantastic article which you can read below:


No matter what your goals are for your Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competition is a fantastic learning tool, and it will help you improve your BJJ faster.  Most people who train aren’t trying to pursue BJJ as a professional career, but we all want to reach our full potential and do well in training.  Competition is the perfect way to jump out of your comfort zone, and really test your skills.  Win or lose you will learn a lot about your Jiu Jitsu, and what you need to work on.  It will paint a clear picture of what holes need to be plugged in your game, and give you motivation to get back to training to fix your weak areas.  Preparing for the tournament will also help give purpose and drive to your training, so you can get the most out of every session.


Game plan:

Allow yourself 6-8 weeks of preparation in order to clean up your diet, get consistent hard training, and practice your game plan.  Ask your Prof./Coach and your teammates with competition experience how they like to physically, and mentally prepare for a tournament.  You must have a game plan that will enable you to achieve your goal.  For example, if you like to pull guard you must have sweeps you want to go for, followed by passing options for when you get on top, and then finishes you like to go for after you pass.  Be prepared for their common reactions, and create counters for these so you won’t be thrown off.


You don’t want to get to the tournament only to realize your game is on point, but you can’t execute it because your cardio is bad.  This is one reason it’s so important to have 6-8 weeks of preparation and hard training before the competition.  If you have this you know your cardio won’t be a problem, and you won’t have the fear of gassing out in competition.  This being said, you won’t get this cardio unless you train hard and push yourself to the limit.  In competition you will get pushed to your limit, so be comfortable with this and know you can push through the exhaustion and fight your hardest without giving up.



When you get to the tournament remind yourself to breath and relax.  Don’t let the nerves get the best of you and remind yourself that you have prepared for this moment.  Push all the negative thoughts and doubts out of your head, and replace them with positive thoughts and encouragement.  It’s your first competition, don’t put needless pressure on yourself.  You’ve done all the preparation now it’s time to let your Brazilian Jiu Jitsu flow and have fun showing off.


Once you’re calm and your nerves are under control think about your opening move.  Go through the match, and visualize yourself hitting a sweep you’ve practiced, passing their guard, and then submitting.  Never picture yourself loosing, instead fill your mind with positive images.  Even in training picture yourself at the tournament, imagine all the noises of the crowd, and pretend you’re looking your competition face-to-face.  Bring that intensity to your rolls in training, so that you won’t be thrown off guard by your opponent’s aggression thus giving them the upper hand.



Make sure you warm up properly before you compete.  It will help prevent injury, and prepare you to fight.  Try to do a warm up that you’ve been doing in training so that you can mimic what you’ve been practicing.  It will help calm your nerves and get the blood pumping.  The first roll in training tends to be a warm up round, and then the following rolls you’re more ready to go hard.  You don’t want your first match to feel like that warm up round, so make sure you warm up fully, so that your body is prepared for the intensity of the fight.


Chances are this won’t be your last tournament, so if things don’t go your way don’t beat yourself up, instead learn from your mistakes and get back to training to fix them.  Beating yourself up for losing is not going to benefit you in any way.  What will help you is watching your matches, and having your Coach/Prof. watch them so they can point out your mistakes.  Even if you win it’s still a good idea to have them watch the footage, and get advise.  Once you have addressed what it is you need to fix you have just leveled up your Jiu Jitsu, and you’re another step closer to plugging all the holes in your game.

If you are thinking about competing, there are some great tournaments coming up in Ontario!



For information about the Ontario Open which will be taking place in May, visit

The Hidden Benefits of A BJJ Lifestyle.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is not just one of the fastest growing sports in the world AND one of the most effective self-defense systems BUT it is also a lifestyle.

The “BJJ Lifestyle” is a term that you will often hear once you begin training but what does it mean?

Many of the benefits of BJJ go beyond what takes place on the mat and have an impact on other aspects of your life.  It is these benefits are some of the most life-changing ones.

As an academy owner, I have found that most people who begin BJJ classes are looking for some physical benefits, such as losing weight or getting into shape. Luckily, for them, time and time again, I have seen, first-hand, people making great physical changes including incredible weight loss, increased physical strength and improved flexibility, all with continued practice of BJJ.

It is important to realize that even though you might be getting submitted a lot, when you first begin training, that you are still doing something positive for your health.  

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is also one of the greatest ways to improve your mobility.  After being sedentary all day, practicing Jiu-Jitsu engages your entire body. Your body needs to be really coordinated and move as a unit.  There are many mobility drills and exercises, which are usually part of the warmup, that activate your entire body and jumpstart your physical coordination. 

I have also noticed a great difference in the nutrition and diets of my students which happens organically over time.  Many people notice that if they eat something too heavy or not very nutrient dense that they feel sluggish when they train or that they won’t recover properly.  This leads them to really watch the foods that they eat both prior to class, as well as, after class to ensure they can make the most out of their training and their recovery so that they can train at their full potential. 

BJJ has both physical and mental benefits. Keeping both your body and mind sharp is essential for success in Jiu-Jitsu.  Learning a new technique and trying to implement it into your game takes a lot of physical and mental practice.  For one thing, it is extremely difficult to learn something new and get your body to cooperate and effortlessly move the way you expect.  Secondly, learning the timing so that you can add it to your game takes a lot of drilling and visualization and understanding the situation. Also, it takes great mental strength and focus to not get discouraged when it doesn’t work right away.

In BJJ, just as in life, you need to be able to push through the struggles until you reach your goal.  Jiu-Jitsu really teaches you that drilling and practice eventually will lead to success and it shows you how to problem solve until you have obtained your goal.

After a long day at work or school, you can walk into the academy and your stresses will disappear. The last thing you want to think about when someone is trying to armbar or choke you is your rough day at the office.

What you can’t see is really what the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu lifestyle is about. It’s taking the lessons learned on the mat and applying them to your everyday life. 

Thinking About Trying Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?

What To Expect On Your First Day

Every school is different, but hopefully this will help you understand how most Brazilian Jiu Jitsu schools operate, including ours – Atos Jiu Jitsu Hamilton.

At most schools, you can watch a class, meet the instructor and ask some questions before ever getting on the mats.  At Atos Jiu Jitsu Hamilton, we also encourage you to jump in and try out a free Beginner’s Class, which can be booked online or by contacting us at the school by phone or email.  But, there is no pressure, if you want to watch a class before trying it, that is ok too! Just check out our schedule which is posted on our website and come on by and watch a class.

You should try to show up a couple minutes early to introduce yourself to the instructor and check out the school. You’ll also need to sign a waiver before getting started.

You usually don’t need to own a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu uniform for your first class. At our school, T-shirts, board shorts or sweat pants are all perfectly fine. Some schools let you rent a uniform for your first class but for us, you can just wear something you are comfortable working out in.  Just a heads up though, you will need to purchase a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu uniform, if you decide to continue training.

Please don’t wear anything with extra pockets or belt loops. These are dangerous since fingers and toes can get caught in them. It is definitely ok to wear a knee brace, cup, mouthguard,  etc. as well as taping up any injuries you might have with athletic tape.  In fact, you will probably see quite a few people taping up their fingers before class begins!

I also recommend bringing a bottle of water. 

Make sure your finger and toe nails are well-groomed. Long hair should be tied into a ponytail or bun during class. You should also remove any piercings to prevent injuries. BJJ is a close contact sport, so please be on top of your personal hygiene and shower regularly.  Nobody wants to be the stinky person in class. 

Class Breakdown

Some instructors use a very light warmup, whereas others start the class with a more intense warmup. Most classes start with a group warm-up, such as running laps and doing push-ups, followed by solo drills like forward and backward rolls, bear walks, break-falls, some shrimps along with some stretching. Some of the movements might be new to you but don’t worry your instructor is there to help you. Our warmups will help you learn how to fall safely as well as to develop your physical coordination so that you can move your hips and body on the ground which will be essential as you begin to progress in BJJ.

After warm-ups, the instructor will go through a few different techniques which you will practice with a partner.   At some schools, you will practice a beginner curriculum, and at others you will simply do whatever techniques are being taught that day. At our academy, we have a specific program designed for beginners so your entire class will be geared towards your learning.

After the technical portion of the class, you will usually have time for some live positional drilling or some live sparring.  This will give you the chance to try out the techniques that you just practiced against a resisting opponent.  For example, if the technique you practiced in class was an escape from side control, the drill might involve starting in side control and trying to escape while your partner tries to keep you in side control.  (You will be shown what side control is during class, if you don’t know what I am referring to).  Please keep in mind the following safety rules that we have in place:

·       No striking, punching or kicking.

·       No eye gouging or hair pulling.

·       No twisting or grabbing fingers.

·       No slamming (picking someone up and dropping them).

·       No heelhooks (twisting the foot or knee).

·       No neck cranks.

You need to have training partners in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, so it is important to keep each other safe and not injured.   It is also important to learn to tap.  Tapping is the way you let your partner know to let go.  If you feel yourself caught in an armbar or choke, by tapping your partner or by saying “tap” you will let them know to stop and you will both reset.  Tapping is part of the game and if you aren’t tapping then you aren’t improving.  It is important to be in bad positions and learn what works and what doesn’t so don’t feel discouraged if you find yourself tapping a lot.

Before you go home

After class, if you have any other questions about pricing, schedule etc your instructor would be happy to answer any questions that you might have.  If you decide you like it and want to purchase a gi, most schools will have some for sale (we do at Atos Jiu Jitsu Hamilton). If you already have one, that is ok too, as long as, it is white.  We have a white gi only policy at our school. 

Awesome Year End Tournament and Grading!

On Saturday December 10th, we had an amazing year-end Kids In-House Tournament and Belt Promotion as well as an awesome Adult Grading!

Our Kids Team looked really sharp and focused as they showcased great skills.  The tournament was a great success and everyone had a great time!  I was really happy to promote such an extraordinary group of great kids.  The future is very bright! Check out our gallery for photos of the event!

We also had an Adult Grading!  Fifteen adults were promoted to the next level.  Our team keeps growing and growing and I am always happy when new goals are reached!  All those who were testing were very well-prepared and very well-deserving!  I look forward to seeing the new belts get broken in! 

August is Crazy!

We have a really exciting August planned at our academy!  We are very happy to welcome back 6 time World Champion Professor Rafael Mendes to Pura BJJ | Atos Jiu Jitsu Hamilton!  He will be here on August 21st and I know he is excited to see everyone again!  

Please check out this awesome video of Professor Rafa in action at the recent Rickson Cup in Japan!  


We also have our annual BBQ/Picnic at the Binbrook Conservation Area on August 27th --> We will have mats so we can do some rolling, games, food and drinks!  Sign up today! 



Hamilton Healthy Kids!

We very excited to welcome over 75 kids to take part in two classes as part of the Hamilton Healthy Kids Passport Program!  The kids all worked extremely hard as we went through a typical Jiu-Jitsu warm-up and we also went over some basic techniques of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu!  It is always so rewarded to introduce the BJJ Lifestyle to those who have never tried it before and this was no exception.  Thank you to all those who participated and we look forward to doing it again soon!

An Evening With Professor Gui Mendes!

Thank you to everyone who came out to class on Thursday Nov 19th as we welcomed Professor Gui Mendes BACK to our academy!  It was a fantastic class!  We covered a variety of positions and new details!  It was also a special night at Pura BJJ because there were a few promotions!  Congrats to Diana C, Chris V, David D, Brad L, Kyle W, Chris S, Farshad K and a huge congratulations to Paul Zenchuk as he was awarded his Black Belt!! 

Great Time Training With Coach Gustavo Fonseca

Thank you to everyone who came out to train in the SPECIAL classes with Coach Gustavo Fonseca from AOJ!  Coach Gu taught some amazing techniques and details and everyone looked they had a fantastic time!  It is always awesome learning from someone as awesome as Coach Gu --> he is not only amazing on the mats but also off of the mat!  He is easily one of the most positive people that I know and his positivity is contagious!  I look forward to continue to drill the various positions that he taught!  Huge thanks to Roger for coming out and taking great photos!  If you are looking for a photographer contact Roger at!




Professor PJ returns from Art of Jiu Jitsu


I am back from teaching classes at the Art of Jiu Jitsu Academy in Costa Mesa/Newport Beach California!  Professors Rafael and Guilherme Mendes asked for me to cover some classes while the coaches from AOJ competed at the IBJJF European Championships.  It is definitely a great honour and I jumped at the opportunity!  I am looking forward to being back on the mats at Pura BJJ | ATOS Hamilton and I hope to see you all soon! 


Prof PJ teaching a Nogi class at AOJ.  photo credit @jujitsu4me